Ph.D. Spotlight

Posted On December 6, 2017
Categories News


Courtspotlight-pic_courtney_5ney Culpepper
Ph.D. Candidate in Biology, GSU

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Courtney graduated in the top 10% of her high school class in 2009 and continued her education at Clark Atlanta University. Courtney studied biology at Clark for two years and then transferred to Morgan State University in Baltimore to complete her degree. Once at Morgan State, she was quickly accepted into the NIH funded MARC U STAR program where she worked under Dr. Simon Nyaga to investigate the role of oxidative damage in pancreatic cancer. During her time in this program, Courtney presented her research at various scientific platforms and was accepted into two competitive summer research fellowships. The first was at the University of Texas Health Science Center of San Antonio’s Department of Urology in 2013where she worked with Drs. Rita Ghosh and Partrap Kumar to determine the effect of Anti-Oxidant NQO1 on prostate cancer epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). In 2014, she became a Nathan Schnaper Summer Research Assistant at The University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, under the guidance of Dr. Tonya Webb where her project focused on improving chimeric antigen receptor technology. Courtney received Morgan State University’s President’s Award for Creative Achievement and graduated magna cum laude in May 2014. Courtney was excited to be accepted into Georgia State University because of the diversity, faculty, and research background of the Ph.D. Biology program.

Upon arriving at Georgia State, Courtney became a member of Dr. Yuan Liu’s Laboratory. In May 2016, she was awarded an NIH Diversity Grant Supplement to research the mechanisms that regulate bone marrow generation of myeloid leukocytes, especially Polymorphonuclear cells and Myeloid Derived Suppressor cells under chronic inflammatory conditions. Courtney enjoys researching the field of immunology, and her project, because it focuses on understanding the mechanisms that govern the immune response and learning how to manipulate them for disease treatment. Additionally, the complexity of the immune system ensures there will always be something intriguing to research. In November, she was awarded the Georgia State University Dissertation Grant for her outstanding proposal. Receiving this grant, which is another excellent accomplishment has helped to enrich her career as an early stage investigator.

Courtney has enjoyed her time studying at Georgia State; it has allowed her to meet and learn from people of all backgrounds. The campus being located in Atlanta has also positively contributed to other aspects of her life. The city of Atlanta has its own culture, and working downtown has let her experience all that it has to offer. Courtney’s best words of encouragement for future Georgia State students are “You have made it this far, allow nothing to deter you from your dreams.”